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April 30, 2004 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-04-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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from page 31

in the countryside or teens playing
pranks at school. She wanted more
texts about the Holocaust.
From an early age, Levine — today
a producer for the Canadian
Broadcasting Company — loved his-
tory and language. So she gladly
wrote numerous schools essays —
usually about the Holocaust.
It wasn't that she was trying to deal
with a family agony. Only her very
distant relatives had been murdered
in Nazi death camps.
Yet Levine was haunted by the idea
"that it could have been me," she
says. "I was always wondering, were I
in a situation like that, would I have
had the guts to join the Resistance?"
Her grandmother had been born
and grew up in Europe, but came to
settle in Canada before the war. "But
woman who teaches other children in
what if she hadn't immigrated?"
her own country about the horrors of
Levine wondered. "That was a big
the Holocaust.
part of why I kept reading."
Levine sees valuable lessons for
Another aspect was the sheer har-
young readers.
rowing mystery of it all.
"It's a way of helping kids look at
"How could such evil happen?" she
history
in relation to their own lives
wondered. "I used to read the really, .
and
giving
them an idea ... that they
really horrible stuff; and I often
can
do
something
about the world
thought, 'Why are you doing this?' It
they live in," Levine says.
seemed weird, but I was trying to
Levine wrote Hands Suitcase at the
understand evil; and I was also fasci-
computer,
working weekend morn-
nated by the idea that people could
ings.
It
took
about 2 1 /2 months.
live through such a thing and func-
Not
only
did
Levine spend many
tion as human beings in any way
hours
writing
the
book, she's now
afterward.
spending
many
hours
talking about
"It raised so many questions," she
it, often to young adults.
says. "I'm still looking for the
People ask, "Does it get boring?"
answers."
"No," she says, without hesitation.
As an adult, Levine in 1989 pro-
"It's a great story and I'm really lucky
duced a six-hour documentary on the
to
have a great story to tell."
Holocaust. She interviewed 50 sur-
Being
in the spotlight — that's a
vivors. After that, she thought it
little
different.
As a radio producer,
might be time for a break — from
"I've always been behind the scenes,"
documentaries, from the Holocaust.
Levine says. And while she is a moth-
Then she picked up a copy of the
er and adores her son, Gabriel, Levine
Canadian Jewish News with a story
never imagined herself spending so
about a suitcase and a Japanese
much
time working with children.
woman intrigued by the suitcase's
"I
never
thought I would have the
owner, a little girl named Hana.
patience
to
be a teacher, for exam-
There was an older gentleman, too,
ple,"
she
says.
"But I love being with
Hana's brother, who resided, coinci-
the kids; it's thrilling."
dentally enough, in Canada.
Levine, who also loves working on
"The story was like a little lighten-
such topics as women's issues, history
ing bolt," Levine says. "And kaboom,
and social movements, has spent
I realized I was going to be back in
more
than 25 years in radio, where
the documentary making business.".
she
won
two Peabody Awards, includ-
It was such an odd, compelling col-
ing
one
for
her documentary
lection of facts — a suitcase, a Jewish
"Children of the Holocaust." She has
girl in World War II, a Japanese
Holocaust museum. Then there is the spent even more years mystified,
pained, intrigued by the Holocaust.
story itself: the almost inexpressibly
"It has everything: love, hate,
beautiful and mournful tale of a mur-
betrayal,
power and powerlessness,"
dered child who is remembered so
she
says.
"It's the central event of the
many years later by a woman in
20th
century
in terms of trying to
Japan, a woman with whom she has
understand
human
behavior and the
virtually nothing in common, a

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